THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.

Archive for Cookies-Cake-Pastry

RECIPE: Baked Churros

You don’t have to wait until Cinco de Mayo to make a batch of churros.

But this lesser-guilt recipe for baked churros (instead of fried), from The Baker Chick, is reason enough to serve them anytime.

The recipe is below, but first:

THE HISTORY OF CHURROS

According to Fox News Latino, churros evolved from a Chinese cruller* (youtiao). Portuguese sailors discovered them them on their Far East voyages, which reached China in the early 16th century.

They brought the recipe home with them. The recipe spread to Spain, and the Spanish improved on the concept by passing the dough through a star-shaped tip prior to frying.

In addition to the eye appeal, the signature ridges created by the tip turned out to be superior for holding dipping sauces: an improvement over the original.

The name may have derived from the Spanish word for coarse or rough, churro. Certainly, these fried, ridged pastries were rougher than the finer works of pastry chefs.

The churros were dusted in cinnamon and sugar, and dipped in chocolate sauce, and enjoyed at breakfast with café con leche or hot chocolate, the latter also developed in Spain in the 16th century.

Churros arrived in what is now Mexico in the 16th century, via the Spanish conquistadors.

While traveling from country to country, the churro was enhanced, from guava-filled churros in Cuba, the dulce de leche-filled churros in Mexico and cheese-filled churros in Uruguay.

Dulce de leche, a popular sauce for churros, was invented in Argentina in the 19th century. The first historical reference to the Argentinian dessert comes from a peace meeting between military leaders in 1829.

According to legend, dulce de leche was produced by accident when the maid was cooking some milk and sugar and was unexpectedly called away. Upon her return, the mixture had transformed into a thick, brown consistency (not very different from caramel sauce, which is made with sugar, cream and butter).

The “new dessert” was called dulce de leche, a milk sweet [confection]. Today it is usually made with sweetened condensed milk (which did not exist at the time).

________________
*The Chinese cruller, youtiao, also popular in, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

†There is also a story about nomadic Spanish shepherds developing churros while tending their flocks in the mountains. There are breeds of Spanish sheep called the navajo-churro and the churra, the horns of which are said to look similar to the fried pastry. If the shepherds did mak4e churros, it was more likely after they spread through Spain.
________________

RECIPE: BAKED CHURROS

Ingredients For 18-20 Churros

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs‡
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup cinnamon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter (or cooking spray)
  • Optional dipping sauce(s): chocolate sauce or fondue, dulce de leche, caramel sauce
  •  
    Plus

  • Piping bag with large star tip
  •    

    Churros With Chocolate Fondue

    Churros In Doily

    Churros In Basket

    [1] Churros, shown here with fruit dippers and spicy chocolate fondue (here’s the recipe from McCormick).[2] Two ways to serve churros: nicely arranged in a doily at Soccarat Paella Bar in New York City, and [3] in a basket, at King Arthur Flour.

     

    ________________

    ‡If you don’t have large eggs, use what you have but aim for 2/3 cup of egg. A larger amount could yield more watery dough.

     

    Baked Churros Recipe

    Baked Churros Recipe

    [4] and [5] Churros made with this recipe from The Baker Chick.

       
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. In a medium saucepan combine the butter, salt and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.

    2. REMOVE from the heat add the flour; stir to combine. The mixture will thicken and start to resemble the texture of mashed potatoes.

    3. LEAVE the dough in the saucepan, but beat it on low with a hand mixer, adding one egg at a time and mixing well before adding another. After adding each egg, the mixture will become wet and glossy, but after mixing on high for a few seconds it will thicken again. When all the eggs are are combined…

    4. ADD the vanilla. The dough will be thick and starchy, still with a similar texture to mashed potatoes. Spoon the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Lightly spray a cookie sheet and pipe 6-inch rows of the dough with at least 1 inch between each churro.

    5. BAKE in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven, brush the warm churros with melted butter or spray lightly, and place in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and shake the dish to make sure they are well-coated.

    Churros are best enjoyed warm. If they cool to room temperature, give them 30 seconds in the microwave.
     
     
    MORE CHURROS RECIPES

  • Chocolate Churros REcipe
  • Churros With Three Chiles Fondue (Spicy Fondue)
  •  

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Hand Pies Grow Up

    Gourmet Hand Pies

    Raspberry Hand Pies

    Hand Pie, Ham & Cheese

    [1] Hand pies plated as a gourmet dessert at Sirena Cocina Latina in San Diego (alas, now closed). [2] Use cutters to make prettier pies, and crimp the edges with a fork (here’s the recipe from Driscoll’s Berries). [3] A ham, brie and fig jam hand pie with grainy mustard sauce (here’s the recipe from Cooking On The Front Burner).

     

    Like pie? Like savory pie? Like fancy desserts?

    Combine the two with plated hand pies. The pies, meant to be eaten without plate or fork, taste even better with a bit of glamour.

    Sweet Hand Pies

    Restaurant Sirena Cocina Latina in San Diego plated fruit pies with dessert garnishes (photo #1):

  • Mango purée (use your fruit of choice)
  • Berries (use fresh, caramelized or grilled fruit of choice)
  • Ice cream (substitute crème fraîche, mascarpone or whipped cream)
  • Cookie crumbs (under the ice cream)
  • Any garnish you like, from chocolate shavings to edible flowers
  •  
    Savory Hand Pies

    For an appetizer or first course, you can make meat, cheese or vegetable hand pies—or any variation combination (photo #3).

    Choose savory garnishes:

  • Chutney
  • Dairy-based: horseradish cream, flavored sour cream or plain yogurt
  • Gherkins or other pickled vegetables
  • Herbs
  • Sauces (cheese, marinara, tomatillo, whatever)
  • Herbs or microgreens
  • Small salad: Asian slaw, cucumber salad, dressed mesclun, etc.)
  •  
    TIP: Sweet or savory, use your cutters to create a shape at the top of the pie (photo #2).
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF HAND PIES

    Since there was dough, something to fill it with, and something to bake it on or in, there have been hand pies—beginning with savory pies.

    Cultures around the world have what we now call hand pies: portable meals that could be stuffed with leftovers or any variety of kitchen ingredients. Empanadas, a popular Mexican street food, Jewish knishes and and Jamaican meat patties are hand pies.

    Until someone in the U.S. called them hand pies (if you know who, raise your hand), these grab-and-go mini-meals were called meat pies or pasties (rhymes with nasty, not tasty).

    In our own culture, they trace their origins at least to 19th-century England, where they were a convenient lunch for Cornish tin miners—but not as we eat pasties today.

    For miners, the pastry casing kept the filling warm and dirt-free. Holding the edges, miners would eat the filling and discard the dough.

    Cornish immigrants to northern Michigan brought the tradition to the U.S. [source] The concept engendered fruit versions among America’s home pie bakers, and corner sweet shops sold them to enthusiastic fans.

     
    Sweet hand pies traveled south, where they became popular in New Orleans (Hubig’s bakery made theirs in a half-moon shape, with fruit, custard and chocolate fillings). Hand pies became a Southern snack staple, made for church bake sales, picnics and home treats.

    They’re portable, requiring no plate or fork, and can sit in the heat without melting. Give us a good crust, and we’re in!

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: History Of The Upside Down Cake & Cake Pans

    If you’ve never had an upside-down cake, today’s the day: April 20th is National Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

    With an upside-down cake, fruit is set on the bottom of the pan, topped with cake batter.

    When the cooking is complete, the skillet is inverted onto a plate, such that the fruit is now on top, although it was baked upside-down.

    SCION OF THE SKILLET CAKE

    This cake was originally made on the stove top in a skillet, and called skillet cake (photo #4). Today, it’s the same process, but with the benefit of cake pans and ovens.

    (Want to be authentic with a skillet and the stove top? No one will stop you! Those who want to go really authentic should try cooking it over a campfire or wood fireplace.)

    To make a skillet cake, fruit is set on the bottom and the batter poured on top. When the skillet or pan is inverted, the fruit that was once at the bottom forms a decorative topping. Any fruit can be used.

    When canned pineapple rings became available in the first half of the 20th century, Pineapple Upside Down Cake became the rage—often with maraschino cherries in the center of the pineapple rings.

    As the recipe evolved, cooks put their skillets in the oven to bake. Nordicware, creator of the bundt pan, created a special round pan with indentations for the pineapple slices (photo #6), guaranteeing a perfect presentation.

    To show how popular the cake became, they also make mini pans for individual Upside-Down Cakes.

    Check out these upside down cake recipes:

  • Blood Orange Upside Down Cake (photo #2)
  • Upside-Down Ginger-Pecan Peach Pie
  • Upside Down Irish Whiskey Cake
  •  
    Upside Down Cake is related to Tarte Tatin, an accidental upside-down pie from 1880s France.

    Also check out the different types of cakes.
     
    THE HISTORY OF CAKE PANS

    Why are cakes round?

    Generally, the round cakes we know today are descended from ancient breads, before there were baking pans of any kind.

    Yeast-risen breads and cakes were made by hand, patted into balls and baked on hearthstones, griddles, or in low, shallow all-purpose pans.

    By the 17th century, cake hoops made of metal or wood were placed on flat pans to shape cakes.

    According to food writer Elizabeth David, in the seventeenth century, tin or iron hoops (photo #4) were increasingly used and to shape cakes, and are frequently mentioned in the “cookery books” (think of the modern flan ring, but much deeper).

    The hoop was placed on an iron or tin sheet, with a layer of floured paper on the bottom (think of today’s parchment paper). The sides of the hoop were buttered to ease removal of the baked cake.

    You can find “these or similar directions offered over and over again in Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife, first published in 1727 (which has recipes for 40 cakes, the large ones being yeast-leavened).

    In the preface of her book, Mrs. Smith says that her recipes reflect some 30 years of experience, so it is likely that her methods date back to the previous century.

    Some recipes direct the reader to bake the cake in a paper hoop (oiled so not to burn), which was used in kitchens of the 1600s [source].

    Wooden hoops were also fairly common. Some cooks preferred them to tin, perhaps because they didn’t rust and thus were easier to store. Wood also didn’t overheat, so were less likely to burn the sides of the cake in those primitive ovens.

    Over time, baking pans in various shapes and sizes became readily available to the general public. Molded cakes in fancy shapes reached their zenith in the Victorian era (commencing with the crowning of Queen Victoria in 1831).

    Today, fancy cake molds can still be had; as well as animal molds, action figures, beehives, sports equipment and football fields, vehicles and other popular culture shapes.
     
     
    LIKE FOOD HISTORY?

    Check out the history of more than 180 foods on THE NIBBLE.

     

    Pineapple Upside Down Cake

    Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

    2 Layer Apple Upside Down Cake

    Skillet Cake

    Wood Baking Hoop

    Pineapple Upside Down Cake Pan

    [1] A Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (here’s the recipe from King Arthur Flour). [2] A Blood Orange Upside Down Cake (here’s the recipe from Good Eggs). [3] A two-layer Apple-Whiskey Upside Down Cake (here’s the recipe from Betty Crocker).[4] A skillet cake. Here’s the recipe for a Pineapple Upside-Down Skillet Cake from King Arthur Flour. [5] An old-fashioned baking hoop (photo courtesy Creeds Direct). [6] Nordicware’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake pan (here it is on Amazon).

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: What To Do With Amaretto

    Amaretto Di Saronno

    Homemade Amaretto

    Amaretto Preserves

    Coffee With Amaretto

    Shrimp With Amaretto Marinade

    [1] The grandaddy of amaretto: Amaretto di Saronno (photo courtesy Illva Saronno S.p.A). [2] Homemade amaretto (here’s the recipe from Mantitlement). [3] Amaretto preserves (photo courtesy Telltale Preserve Co). [4] Pour amaretto into your coffee, or serve it as a chaser (photo courtesy Coffee Door Country). [5] Shrimp in an amaretto marinade (photo courtesy Kansas City Steaks).

     

    Today is National Amaretto Day, in honor of an almond-flavored liqueur initially made with local bitter almonds in the area of Saronno, Italy.

    Amaretto is Italian for “a little bitter,” which it may have been back then. Today, it is sweet—and often made from apricot pits, which taste like almond and are a whole lot less expensive.

    But what to do with that bottle of amaretto?

    Gone are the days when a glass of liqueur would be a sweet ending to dinner. Has anyone had an after-dinner liqueur at home since, say, the 1970s?

    Don’t let the bottle of amaretto gather dust on a closet shelf. Today’s tip is: Take that bottle down and put it to good use!

    1. Revive the custom of the after dinner drink.

    Drink your dessert instead of eating something sweet.

    You don’t need to buy delicate, stemmed liqueur glasses: Rocks glaasses, even shot glasses, will do just fine.

    We use miniature brandy snifters.

    2. Bring out the bottle with after-dinner coffee…

    …or brunch coffee…or coffee at any respectable time of day.

    We have long followed our Nana’s custom of bringing a silver tray with four liqueur bottles (amaretto, anisette, Courvoisier, crème de cacao) and small cream pitchers to the table with coffee.

    Why the little pitchers? Nana was far too elegant to pour liqueur from a bottle into a coffee cup. It was poured from the bottle into the pitcher, and then into the cup.

    Why didn’t she serve the amaretto as a chaser in her crystal liqueur glasses? Alas, it’s too late to ask.

    But anyone who enjoys a shot of flavored syrup in their cup of coffee will appreciate the even greater depth of favor from a sweet liqueur—mixed in or served separately.

    3. Make cocktails.

    You can even throw a cocktail party with a menu of amaretto cocktails: Almond Joy, Amaretto Alexander, Amaretto and Coke, Amaretto Sour, Italian Sunset and others.

    Here are “the 10 best amaretto cocktail recipes.”

    Everything old is new again.

    And for dessert: a DiSaronno Milkshake, which is just as it sounds: amaretto and vanilla ice cream, tossed into the blender.

    MORE WAYS TO USE AMARETTO

    We have almost 40 different ways to use amaretto.

    While the biggest opportunity comes in adding a tablespoon or two to sweet foods, there are also savory uses.

    Amaretto In Desserts

  • Almond cookies
  • Anything that uses almond flour
  • Applesauce
  • Any chocolate recipe, including chocolate truffles
  • Baked or sautéed apples or pears, or sautéed stone fruits
  • Cake: sprinkle directly onto angel, pound and sponge cakes, or reduce into a sauce
  • Cannoli cream
  • Cheesecake
  • Compote or stewed fruit
  • Cookie dip (make a sweet dip, or just dip the cookies in straight amaretto)
  • Crêpes
  • Dessert sauce (butterscotch, caramel, chocolate, fruit)
  • Fresh fruit and fruit salad (pineapple or peaches and amaretto are inspired pairings)
  • Frostings and fillings
  • Ice cream: churned into homemade (really delicious!), or poured over a scoop of ready made
  • Jam and preserves
  • Maraschino cherries (replace half the sugar syrup with amaretto)
  • Marinate dried fruits (as a garnish for proteins or desserts)
  • Pudding (almost any flavor)
  • Sautéed bananas
  • Tiramisu
  • Whipped cream
  •  
    Amaretto In Beverages

  • Beertails (yes, add some to beer, especially a bland one)
  • Cherry, peach or pineapple Jell-O shots
  • Cocktails
  • Cherry, cola or lemon-lime soft drinks
  • Coffee, hot or iced
  • Floats and milkshakes
  • Hot chocolate
  • Neat or on the rocks
  • Tea, hot or iced
  • Sparkling wine
  • Spritzer (club soda and amaretto)
  •  
    More Amaretto Uses

  • Almondine sauce for chicken, duck, fish, pork and vegetables
  • French toast, pancake and waffle batter
  • Peanut butter or chocolate spread (e.g. Nutella)
  • Marinades for meat and seafood (delish with grilled shrimp—here’s a recipe)
  •  
    What if you simply have too much amaretto?

    Give it away. Our Dad, who didn’t drink alcohol, had four bottles in his closet—and didn’t understand the concept of re-gifting.

    Tie a bow around the neck; and if you feel you need to buy something, add some liqueur glasses.

    Not enough amaretto?

    Make your own with this recipe.

     

    RECIPE: AMARETTO BROWNIES WITH AMARETTO FROSTING

    Thanks to Rosie Bucherati of King Arthur Flour for this yummy recipe.

    Ingredients For About 4 Dozen Small Squares

    For The Brownies

  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Optional garnish: 1/3 cup tablespoons sliced or slivered almonds
  •  
    For The Amaretto Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup natural or Dutch-process cocoa
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons amaretto
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (for enhanced flavor)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

     

    Amaretto Brownies

    Amaretto Pound Cake

    Anything baked tastes good with amaretto. [1] Amaretto brownies (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [2] Amaretto pound cake with amaretto glaze (photo courtesy The Baker Chick).

     
    2. MELT the butter and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until melted (or you can microwave). Add sugar, stirring until combined. Remove from the heat, and cool to lukewarm. Stir in the eggs and amaretto.

    3. ADD the flour, salt and espresso powder, beating gently until thoroughly combined. Spread the batter into the pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

    4. MAKE the frosting. Combine the butter and chocolate in bowl, stirring until smooth. Add the sifted confectioner’s sugar alternately with the milk, beating on medium speed. Stir in the amaretto and espresso powder.

    5. SPREAD the icing on the cooled brownies. Garnish with almonds. Cover and refrigerate the brownies for at least 1 hour before serving; this will help the icing set, and make cutting a lot less messy.

    6. CUT the brownies in small squares to serve. Cover any leftovers, and store at cool room temperature. If it’s warm in your house, you can wrap them airtight and store in the fridge for a day or so; or freeze for longer storage.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Good Zebra Gourmet Animal Crackers

    Good Zebra Animal Crackers

    Good Zebra Animal Crackers

    Spirit animals await you, in chai, lemon and vanilla. Photos courtesy Good Zebra.

     

    Good Zebra calls their animal crackers “spirit animal crackers.” That’s because their four varieties represent different spirit animals.

    You can take the quiz to find your spirit animal—a totem representing you in the animal kingdom.

    A totem is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol of a tribe, clan, family or individual.

    Native American tradition provides that each individual is connected with nine different animals that will accompany each person through life, acting as guides.

    Cultures around the world consider their spirit animal to be an otherworldly guide, who appears during difficult times to offer love, healing and/or support.

    It generally takes the form of an animal with which a person (or a clan) shares a certain set of characteristics, and thus a kinship.

    The animal acts as a guide and protector for humans. In death, the humans’ spirits are absorbed into the animal. (Here’s more from The Atlantic.)

    You don’t have to pursue your spirit animal in order to enjoy Good Zebra animal crackers, however.

    We call Good Zebra gourmet animal crackers, because the sophisticated flavors taste so good—in chai, lemon and vanilla.

    There are 11 different animal shapes*, inspired by original tattoo art, “each with a soul-touching message to enlighten, uplift and empower,” according to the producers.

     

    Each 2-ounce resealable bag contains approximately 20 animal crackers, delivering 12 grams of protein.

    The crackers are all natural, nothing processed or refined (they’re sweetened with honey and coconut sugar). Made with 70% organic ingredients, they’re certified kosher by OU.

    You can buy 12 packages for $28 or four packages for $17.

    Get yours at Good-Zebra.com.

    If you’d prefer to bake your own animal crackers, here’s a recipe.

    ________________

    *We identified a butterfly, deer, fox, grizzly bear, kestrel, owl, peacock, turtle, unicorn, wolf, and of course, zebra. There is a Native American zodiac with additional animal symbols.

     
      

    Comments



    © Copyright 2005-2017 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.